Happy Friday, and greetings from New York City!
The best thing about my grad school days was that I wasn’t spending my time thinking, wondering or worrying about things as basic as diversity and racial integration (a major preoccupation now). We students were more focused on how we could use our minds and experiences to try to solve the urban development problems facing our cities, protect the environment and find strategies to help the poor and disenfranchised around the world.
In that setting, our cultural, political, racial and religious differences were an asset, not a threat. Of course, I wasn’t naive about the world we were working in, and what we could do in the face of an international order built over centuries of wars of aggression, colonization and the intentional underdevelopment of the so-called Global South to the benefit of the West. But as we studied and grappled, our imaginations were opened to what was possible. And, frankly, it was freaking fun. (Our parties and food exchanges were legendary.)
I left graduate school to become a freelance reporter in the Caribbean — Curaçao, to be exact. It was another place where I encountered cultures from all over, though as a former Dutch colony, it was also a country with an obvious legacy of racism and inequality, still present in everyday life.
Fast-forward to the 10 years I’ve spent in the United States, and I recognize how much of my time and energy has been spent — and, I worry, wasted — fighting to convince folks that inviting people of different backgrounds and experiences into the room is a good thing.
I know: I’m going to be told, “Keep up the good fight.” But this weekend will be a reminder that I didn’t go to an Ivy League grad school to become a diversity janitor cleaning up the messes of White corporate America. I went because I wanted to learn how to be a good citizen of the world. I chose journalism as the way I could best express that desire.
Home Front: So much for Spotify’s $100 million Band-Aid
My pessimism about White America’s racial progress is today sponsored by Spotify.
Last year, I wrote about how the audio streaming service had rushed to cover a huge mess when it was discovered that Joe Rogan, an ultra-popular podcast host, had been caught on tape using the n-word more than 20 times. Spotify scrambled and removed more than 100 episodes of Rogan’s show. They also promised to give $100 million to diverse content creators.
Turns out, Spotify has spent less than 10 percent of its so-called Creator Equity Fund, Bloomberg News reports. “The initiative got off to a slow start hiring staff and has suffered from shifting priorities, according to people familiar with the effort who asked not be identified discussing an internal matter,” the Bloomberg article says. “At the start of the year, the fund was still finalizing its 2023 budget and had yet to determine its priority projects.”
According to Complex, a Spotify rep merely said the company has used “more than” Bloomberg’s reported number.
Spotify responded to Bloomberg by pointing out that the fund “is dedicated to a variety of initiatives that help elevate and support an inclusive and diverse portfolio of artists and creators on the platform,” and that it was designed to be used over multiple years.
Meanwhile, Rogan still coasts along with a Spotify deal worth at least $200 million.
A major company apparently paying mere lip service to racial equality? Color me shocked.
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